Feist / Mayor McCa

  • London
  • United Kingdom
  • Shepherd's Bush Empire
  • 2007-04-17

A few songs in, opening act Mayor McCa states “Have you worked out what I’m doing yet? It normally takes about three songs to work it out.” The man is a one-man band playing guitar and sitting on a bass drum which he plays with one of his feet, using the other to play bass notes on a keyboard and sometimes offering a little bit of keyboard with his hands, instead of or as well as guitar. With half-comic stories about beards and trying to get a job he is certainly an entertainer, even breaking one song up to move to a different part of the stage where he performed some tap dancing — not something that a bearded, long-haired, denim-clad, trucker-cap-wearing fella would have you expect from him. The music is a bit southern, a bit old-school rock ‘n roll, but with a bit of various things flung in and coming together to sound something like early Beck material. Though the music was perhaps not on it’s own worth paying money to see, the whole package was certainly fun and worth turning up early for.

The glamourous indie-queen Feist was obviously the major draw here though — the fact that the gig was actually a seated affair seemingly much more down to her wide appeal than to that of the comic opener. Touring to promote the recently released solo The Reminder Leslie Feist is famous as much for her early punk outings but even more so for the recent stint in Broken Social Scene, though her solo efforts have produced two studio albums in 1999’s Monarch and 2004’s acclaimed Let It Die. The singer/songwriter was on impeccable form both vocally, instrumentally (on her guitar) and also as an entertainer — leading the band and the crowd with jokes, banter and bringing out audience-wide singalong harmonies too.

an inherent warmth and pleasurably uplifting quality in it’s jazzy climes

Performing a lengthy set Feist travelled through a wealth of material from The Reminder and accordingly slipped from style to style — from soulful ballads to upbeat country-rock, lilting pop to gorgeous 70s r’n’b and faultlessly and seamlessly shifting between these moods. The music has an inherent warmth and pleasurably uplifting quality in it’s jazzy climes — whether in softer territory like “The Park” or opening song Honey Honey with its intriguing vocals and muted keyboards, or in the bouncing pace of indie-rocker “I Feel It All” or leftfield Nina Simone reinterpretation “Sealion”.

The live arrangements offer much for the ears, the accomplished backing band delivering perfect piano, guitar, keyboard and percussion and an array of backing vocals, perfectly augmenting Feist’s. The singer has an impressive range, in several ways — she can flit from hushed, soft and low to soaring, high vocals, but also flits between styles comparable at various points to female icons like Patti Smith and Chrissie Hynde to Martha Wainwright, Regina Spektor and then Minnie Ripperton. Where the recordings are always impressive, the live performance adds new nuance as well as picking many of the songs up a gear, for example, “Let It Die”s “When I Was a Young Girl” becomes a big Tom Waits/Bad Seeds tribal knees-up. A couple more tracks from the previous album make an appearance towards the end of the set as well, including the heart-rendering title-track, the heartwarming “Secret Heart” and also, pleasing many no doubt, the advert-used classic summery “Mushaboom”, its ‘hit’ status acknowledged by the artist herself in her encouragent of and leaving for the crowd to sing the “woo oo…” hooks instead of her. Altogether a great show.

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